comscore Short-term vacation rentals enjoy highest occupancy in August, despite Oahu ban
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Short-term vacation rentals enjoy highest occupancy in August, despite Oahu ban

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COVID-19 restrictions banning short-term vacation rentals haven’t lifted on Oahu yet, but the isle’s owners and suppliers again realized the highest, albeit still low, August occupancy statewide.

The state’s supply of vacation rentals fell nearly 60.1% to 356,500 unit nights and monthly demand dropped nearly 93% to 48,500 unit nights, according to a report released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, using data from Transparent Intelligence. Average statewide monthly unit occupancy fell 60.7 percentage points to 13.6%.

In comparison, Oahu’s average monthly unit occupancy fell 58.5 percentage points to 21.1%. Oahu’s vacation rental supply fell nearly 63% to 100, 633 units. Oahu’s demand dropped to 21,191 units, but the 90% or so drop, wasn’t quite as steep as that experienced by Maui or Kauai.

In August, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell still regarded vacation rentals as nonessential businesses and hadn’t joined the neighbor island mayors in loosening operational restrictions. Even Oahu’s legal vacation rentals, the more than 800 with a nonconforming use certificate (NUC) and the additional ones located in a designated resort zone, have been banned since April 7 from advertising or renting their units for short-term rental usage during the lockdown.

Caldwell’s Honolulu Reopening Strategy, announced earlier this week, still bans legal short-term rentals from operating for now as Oahu is still in Tier 1, which is based on a seven day average of greater than 100 COVID-19 cases and a positivity rate above 5%. However, legal short-term rentals will be allowed once Oahu moves to Tier 2, which is based on Oahu having a seven day average of 50 to 100 COVID-19 cases and a positivity rate from 2.5% to 5%.

Short-term rentals, which rented for 30 days or less and weren’t being used to quarantine guests, were allowed to operate on Hawaii island, Kauai and Maui County. However, the benefit of that ended on August 11, when a partial interisland quarantine was reinstated for anyone traveling to the counties of Kauai, Hawaii, Maui, and Kalawao.

Overall, travel demand in August was still depressed significantly by the requirement that all out-of-state passengers were required to abide by a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Because of the quarantines, a majority of flights were canceled in August.

Maui County vacation rentals experienced a drop in occupancy of 67.8 percentage points to 9.8%. Maui’s supply declined nearly 60% to 123,129 and demand dropped nearly 95%, the most of any island, to 12,088.

Kauai’s vacation rental occupancy fell 62.2 percentage points to 9.6%,the lowest occupancy of the major Hawaiian islands. Kauai’s supply fell nearly 55% to 54,852, while demand decreased nearly 94% to 5,276.

Hawaii island’s occupancy declined 51.6 percentage points to 12.7%. Hawaii island’s supply fell more than 63% to 77,904 and demand dropped nearly 93% to 9,896.

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